Veteran middleweight Melvin Manhoef appeared to be in all sorts of trouble after Hisaki Kato landed several big shots along the cage.
But Manhoef has seen it all in his 20 years in the sport knew how to turn things around.
The 39-year old steadied his feet and landed a perfect left hook to knock Kato out cold 3:43 into the first round of the main event of a Bellator MMA card in Thackerville, Okla., on Friday night.
“We saw that when he’s unloading, he throws everything with his left hand. I had to hang in there and I knew it would be rough for a few seconds, but I knew it would be over soon and it was,” Manhoef said. “It worked out.”
Manhoef, who recorded his 28th knockout in 30 career wins, said he was just pleased to be part of an entertaining bout.
“I just want everyone to know that when I come, win or lose, I come for a fight,” he said. “I give my all for you guys. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”
Former NCAA Division 1 wrestling champion Bubba Jenkins earned his sixth win in his last seven fights with a split decision victory over flyweight Jordan Parsons.
Jenkins landed a left kick to the head of Parsons in the second round, but couldn’t finish. Parsons recovered, but not enough to steal the fight on the scorecards.
Las Vegan Chidi Njokuani was successful in his Bellator debut, earning a unanimous decision over Ricky Rainey in a welterweight bout.
Njokuani, the younger brother of Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Anthony Njokuani, badly damaged Rainey’s right eye in the second round and took advantage of his limited sight to win the third round and the fight.
Also, Brandon Girtz and Guilherme Viana picked up knockout wins on the main card.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj